• Pisum sativum;
  • cell area/number;
  • chlorophyll fluorescence;
  • growth;
  • photosynthesis;
  • plant development;
  • UV-B

Pisum sativum cv. Guido grown under controlled environment conditions was exposed to either low or high UV-B radiation (2·2 or 9·9 kJ m–2 d–1 plant-weighted UV-B, respectively). Low or high UV-B was maintained throughout growth (LL and HH treatments, respectively) or plants were transferred between treatments when 22 d old (giving LH and HL treatments). High UV-B significantly reduced plant dry weight and significantly altered plant morphology. The growth and morphology of plants transferred from low to high UV-B were little affected, when compared with those of LL plants. By contrast, plants moved from high to low UV-B showed marked increases in growth when compared with HH plants. This contrast between HL and LH appeared to be related to the effect of UV-B on plant development. Exposure to high UV-B throughout development consistently reduced leaf areas. In fully expanded leaves there was no significant UV-B effect on cell area and reduced leaf area could be attributed to reduced cell number, suggesting effects on leaf primordia. Further reductions in the leaf area of younger leaves were the result of the slower development rate of plants grown at high UV-B, which also resulted in significant reductions in leaf number.